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Anselm Kiefer's "Die berhmten Orden der Nacht" Author(s): John Tain Source: Getty Research Journal, No.

3 (2011), pp. 215-221 Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the J. Paul Getty Trust Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23005400 . Accessed: 29/03/2014 09:29
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Anselm

Kiefer's

Die beruhmten Or den derNacht


John Tain

Of all major engaged beriihmten the special mixing logical. with

living

artists,

Anselm both

Kiefer

arguably

has

been

the

most

productively Die of

the book

form,

as a subject order

of and

as a medium

for his work.1 acquisition Kiefer

Orden

der Nacht

(The

renowned Research and

of the night),

a recent

collections

at the Getty with drawing out because

Institute,

is quintessential

in its deft

of photography Yet it also stands

painting,

and of the everyday unusually light touch, lyrical

with the mytho both literally (in to Just and

of Kiefer's

the sparseness the artist's

of means)

and metaphorically

(in the intimate, Orden

tone). even

Compared

grandiose

productions, square,

Die beriihmten it consists

is modest,

restrained. of mounted

shy of a foot tall and roughly bound obscured beneath inscription photographic prints.

of twenty-nine

spreads

On the cover, paint, seen

the silhouettes

of five sunflowers

are partially script

by thinly brushed-on (fig. 1). Sunflowers, "pour

with the book's

title handwritten up, occupy the two Musee and

in cursive

from the ground spanning Bordeaux's

the first spread, pages. d'art (The book's

with the dedica one solo

Jean-Louis/d'Anselm" Froment, founded

tee, Jean-Louis of Europe's exhibition sunflowers

CAPC

contemporain, the first French for what

seminal of Kiefer's

contemporary work in 1984.2)

art institutions, The initial

mounted

images

set the scene are transformed stars,

follows:

in a field, seeming and brushy

to float in the sky above, of white paint into some

by the addition and celes

of ink drawing tial bodies Messier (M)

passages

constellations, are identified meanders spread

(fig. 2). As if charted and New General

by an astronomer, Catalog spread, (NGC) when

flowers The

by both through lingers on

numbers.3 we reach

book

the sky/field

until the twentieth with M22

Sagittarius. globular

The

this constellation,

(NGC

6656)

the

brightest spread,

cluster

in the North close

ern Hemisphereshining

out. On the following brings us even gleams

we see this sunflower/star completely

up (fig. 3). A turn of the page within the flower's pages

closer:

we are almost

absorbed

dark disk, which and the back cover,

from the raking plunged

light.4 And, finally, in the six as flowers and

concluding

we seem

into its darkness,

photography disappear entirely, replaced by a starry sky conjured by white spattered across thick,veined black paint (fig.4).
In Die dark, heaven to a body beruhmten Orden the mutation of seeming oppositessuch each begun other as light clearly and it and earth, or the microthat explores

and macrocosmicinto and mysticism,

relates Kiefer's

of work

alchemy

in 1993, following

Getty Research

Journal,

no. 3 (2011): 215-221

2011 J. Paul Getty Trust

215

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Xr

Fig. 1. Anselm

Kiefer (German,

b. 1945). Die beriihmten Orden derNacht, 199 6, collage,

(11% x i23/8 in.). Los Angeles, Getty Research Institute (2818-250) Fig. 2. Anselm Kiefer (German, b. 1945). Die beriihmten Orden derNacht, 199 6, collage, 30 x 63 cm Institute (2818-250)

(:11V8 x 24V4 in.). Los Angeles, Getty Research

216

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* * <r - '

c r ^ .

Fig. 3. Anselm

Kiefer (German,

b. 1945). Die beruhmten Oraen derNacht, 199 6, collage, 30 x 63 cm

(11% x 24M in.). Los Angeles, Getty Research Institute (2818-250) Fig. 4. Anselm Kiefer (German, b. 1945). Die beriihmten Orden derNacht, 199 6, collage, 30 x 63 cm

(11% x 24V4 in.). Los Angeles, Getty Research Institute (2818-250)

Tain

Anselm Kiefer's Die beriihmten Or den der Nacht

217

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Fig. 5. Engraved

title page. From Robert Fludd, Utriusque cosmi maioris scilicet etminoris metaphysial, de Bry, 1617). Los Angeles, Getty

physica atqve technica historia, vol. 1 (Frankfurt: Aere Johan-Theodori Research Institute (1378-183)

departure cal cast of which

from Germany of his new also work

and his resettlement was readily apparent

in the south

of France. exhibited

Indeed,

the mysti several the pay

in a set of books

in 1996,

rehearse bent

the metamorphosis

of sunflowers (as

into starscapes.5 well as the related who and

Confirming paintings)

metaphysical homage tical every body Getty

of the work, Fludd,

a few of the books

to Robert

the seventeenth-century

physician

diagrammed proposed significance

the mys that

intersection plant has

of the microcosmic its corresponding has been interpreted

with the macrocosmic star (fig. 5).6 Indeed, precisely

the idea

the larger

of Kiefer's and the

of work volume

as his turn

to the metaphysical,7

seems

to affirm this. Orden bears it takes resemblance to these works, Fludd it also remains

But while distinct

Die beriihmten Most

from them.

obviously,

its title from neither

nor the mystical

218

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tradition, originally

but a line in Ingeborg published bear),

Bachmann's

"An die Sonne" writer's on night bear Anrufung and

(To

the sun).

The

poem

was

as part of the Austrian a sustained Ursus meditation the great

des groBen

Baren

(Invocation the sign the Like While

of the great

darkness,

placed

under

of the constellation two works Kiefer's is based

Major,

of the title.

But the affinity between subject matter.

not simply

on the coincidence poem also

of their celestial effects

book,

at its heart

Bachmann's

a kind of transformation. half enumerates identified

its first half consists

of an ode

to the sun's

beauty,

the second

the beauty

of all that its light gives person "you." Thus, bodies, and

up to sight, including the beginning revisits

an addressee, declares

only as the second beautiful of

whereas

the sun to be the most cavalcade but finds

the heavenly addressee,

the ending

the celestial held

the unnamed light of the

not the sun, at the pinnacle, a metaphor between for the beauty the loved

in greatest

reverence.9

The

Sun thus becomes This gested

radiating

from a beloved. stated but rather sug

similitude

one

and the sun is never stanzas are arranged verse,

by the very form of the poem. fifth stanza, als unter which consists

Its nine simply

symmetrically "Nichts Schonres

around unter to be

the central der Sonne under

of the single

der Sonne

zu sein"

(Nothing

so beautiful

under

the sun than

the sun):

in equating as the copula, the mirroring

the beauty

of the sun with all that basks for the simile by seeming five lines each; and

in its rays, this recur The outward stanzas fur

sive line serves ther reinforce pivot

the connector, of the two halves both three visible

that follows. to radiate

from this and eighth, two.10 The the

line, with the first and last stanzas the third and the seventh, thus renders

in length; the fourth

the second and sixth,

four lines; arrangement sun and

of the verses

and reinforces even

the mirroring surveys

between

beloved,

the poem's

twin

subjects. visible, through

Thus,

as the poem demonstrates structure.11 of poets,

the beauty of

of the sun and poetic beauty

of all that it renders to reveal or illuminate

the poem

also

the capacity

its rigorous

In evoking invites ciling tions consideration of seeming can take

Bachmann,

the most

"poetological" his book

Kiefer

at the very least the recon transforma at large) that can

of the manner

in which but also,

is not merely

"about" such

incommensurates In other

as art, the very site where Orden (and

place.12

words,

Die beruhmten as a kind

Kiefer's practice,

work one

proposes

an understanding bring about

of art itself metamorphosis. ability

of alchemical

imaginatively

At its best, metaphysical, its continuing book works

it is Kiefer's

to articulate of art making, vision

broader

concerns, them,

be they historical that lends

or

within interest. that also

the very terms This took double

to intertwine

his work of

manifested all titled

itself as early as 1969, Die Himmel (The

in a group

the sky as subject, of paper, and pasted

heavens).

Each

consists cut into one Speer "the even

of a scrapbook seemingly

of fragments shapes

photographs, without

and magazine

illustrations, In at least

arbitrary Kiefer

any apparent

order.13

of the group, designed artist's here,

has included

a reproduction as one

of the cathedral has

of light that Albert suggested, initiating But with

for Nuremberg,

perhaps,

commentator wrinkles social

penchant what

for exposing seems

the shadowy to be pure

of any Utopian shares

fabric."14 space

at first glance

commentary

Tain

Anselm Kiefer's Die beriihmten Orden der Nacht

219

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references to underscore

to Piet

Mondrian,

Henri

Matisse, entwined

Vassily

Kandinsky,

and

other

painters,

as if

that art is inextricably years, books Kiefer's such

with history. the heavens (2001), would picking translate up where itself into

In later sculptural mentality dominant lead

fascination

with

as La vie secrete desplantes had

the monu the

of the books characteristic

of the eighties of Kiefer's

left off. Indeed,

monumentality

has been

work

since Palais

then, with the installation in Paris in 2007 serving

of his Sternefall as the most spec

exhibition/environment tacular example

at the Grand

of this trope. Orden

By contrast, finds Kiefer

like other thinking

early works on a smaller the larger

by Kiefer scale, world.

in the GRI's no less

collection, ambitiously, John Tain

Die beruhmten about is curator beauty

though

and art, and their place and contemporary

within collections

of modern

at the Getty Research

Institute.

Notes

1.

On the importance

of books for Kiefer's practice, see Michael Auping, Anselm Kiefer: Heaven

and Earth (Fort Worth: Prestel, 2005), 40. 2. That same month, an exhibition d'Art Moderne also traveled from the Stadtische Kunsthalle Diisseldorf

to the ARC/Musee

de la Ville de Paris. See Jean-Louis 1984).

Froment, Anselm Kiefer (Bordeaux:

CAPC Musee d'art contemporain, 3.

The Messier catalog of nebulae and other heavenly objects was established

in the late eigh a

teenth century by Charles Messier, while the more comprehensive century later. Both nomenclature 4. Responding systems are still in use.

New General Catalog was compiled

to the cinematic quality of the sequence,

Daniel Arasse has described the clos

ing in "as if by a zoom effect." See Daniel Arasse, Anselm Kiefer (Paris: Editions du Regard, 2001), 256. Lisa Saltzman has also commented on this aspect of Kiefer's book work, noting that "like a cinematic story and

board, the format of the picture book allows for the introduction expression generally either strictly condensed

of narrative, a form of depiction

or entirely absent from the pictorial arts." Peter Nisbet, ed., Harvard University Art Museums, 2003), 13.

Anselm Kiefer: The Heavenly Palaces, Merkabah (Cambridge: 5.

Many of them, including Robert Fludd, For Robert Fludd, and Cette obscure clarte qui tombe des

etoiles (all presumably 1996, but undated in the catalog), were exhibited in 1996 at Kiefer's first exhibition following his move to France. See the catalog Cette obscure clarte qui tombe des etoiles (Paris: Yvon Lambert, 1996). The Secret Life of Plants (1998), meanwhile, is reproduced in Andrea Lauterwein, Anselm Kiefer/Paul 73. of Kiefer's interest in

Celan: Myth, Mourning and Memory (Paris: Editions du Regard, 2007), 6.

Two of the books are Robert Fludd and For Robert Fludd. A measure

Fludd's work can be observed in statements such as "When I look at the ripe, heavy sunflowers, bending to the ground, with blackened seeds in the middle of its corolla, I see the firmament and the stars"; Ber 1996): 23. For

nard Comment, "Cette obscure clarte qui tombe des etoiles," Art Press, no. 216 (September more information on Kiefer's relation to Fludd, see Thomas McEvilley, "Communion in Kiefer's New Work: Simultaneously Hand (London: 1995-2001," 78.

and Transcendence

Entering the Body and Leaving the Body," in I Hold All Indias in My and Katharina Schmidt, "Cosmos (Basel: Fondation and Star Paintings Beyeler, 2001).

Anthony D'Offay Gallery, 1996);

in Anselm Kiefer: The Seven Heavenly Palaces 1973-2001 See, for instance, McEvilley, "Communion

and Transcendence."

"An die Sonne" is reprinted in both the original and translation in Ingeborg Bachmann, Dark the Collected Poems, trans. Peter Filkins (Brookline: Zephyr, 2006), 214-17;

ness Spoken: IngeborgBachmann,

and Mark Anderson, ed. and trans., In the Storm of Roses: Selected Poems by Ingeborg Bachmann (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1986), 132-35. Unless otherwise stated, translations are taken from Bachmann,

220

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Darkness Spoken, 215,217. For a discussion

of the importance of Bachmann as an authorial figure in Kiefer's

oeuvre, see Lauterwein, Anselm Kiefer/Paul Celan, 180-204. 9. See note 8. Cf. the first stanza: Schoner als der beachtliche Mond und sein geadeltes Licht,

Schoner als die Sterne, die beruhmten Orden der Nacht Viel schoner als der feurige Auftritt eines Kometen Und zu weit Schonrem berufen als jedes andere Gestirn, Weil dein und mein Lebenjeden Tag an ihr hangt, ist die Sonne

(More beautiful than the remarkable moon and its noble light, More beautiful than the stars, the celebrated orders of night,

Much more beautiful than the fierydisplayofacomet, And so much more beautiful than any other star, Because with the last stanza: Schone Sonne, dervom Staub noch die gropte Bewundrunggebuhrt, Drum werde ich nicht wegen dem Mond und den Sternen und nicht, Weil die Nacht mit Kometen prahlt und in mir einen Narren sucht, Sondern deinetwegen und bald endlos und wie um nichts sonst Verlust meiner Augen. your life and my life depend on it daily, is the sun.)

Klage fiihren iiber den unadwendbaren

(Beautiful sun, which even from dust deserves the highest praise, Causing me to raise a cry, not to the moon, The star, the night's garish comets that name me a fool, But rather to you, and ultimately to you alone, As I lament the inevitable loss of my sight.) io. As Karen Achberger notes, the "twenty-nine lines of the poem are structured symmetrically on each side, the first and last sentences with five lines, the

around [a] central line[,] with four sentences second and penultimate scale descending

with four, then three, and then two lines each. With the simplicity of a five-note from the tonic keynote (5-4-3-2-1-2-3-4-5), with the curve of an

to and then ascending

orbit or an hourglass, the poem counters the destruction with an appreciation mann (Columbia: li.

of the Great Bear on the night side of the earth

of life's beauty under the sun." See Karen R. Achberger, Understanding Ingeborg Bach Press, 1995), 18.

Univ. of South Carolina touches

Bachmann

on this idea in the tenth verse: "Ohne die Sonne nimmt auch die Kunst the sun, even art puts on a veil again). My thanks to Barbara Gaehtgens the way in which the poem is a reflection on

wieder den Schleier"

(Without

for first pointing out this line to me. Hans Holler discusses art. See Hans Holler, IngeborgBachmann: (Frankfurt: Athenaum, 1987), 66. 12. The interpretation of Bachmann

Das Werkvon denfriihesten Gedichten biszum "Todesarten"-Zyklus

found here relies on Leslie Morris's presentation

of Bach

mann's work as "poetological,"

that is, as poetry in which "the subject matter is poetry itself." Morris

insists, however, that "poetic self-reflexivity [is] a political and historical act," one that does not preclude participation in "larger historical discourse" (on National Socialism, for instance). Leslie Morris, Ich Stauffenburg,

suche tin unschuldiges Land: Reading History in the Poetry oflngeborg Bachmann (Tubingen: 2001), 47. 13A selection of the pages of one copy is reproduced in Massimo Indeed, Cacciari and Germano

at the start of Auping, Anselm Kiefer. Pages Celant, Anselm Kiefer (Milan: Edizioni of

from both are reproduced Charta, 1997), 91-97,102-5.

it is common

for Kiefer monographs

to begin with a selection

images that form a sort of artist's book in situ. 14Auping, Anselm Kiefer, 32.

Tain

Anselm Kiefer's Die beriihmten Orden der Nacht

221

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